Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Great Wild Duck Chase Of 2013

I traveled to the east coast for a week to spend with my husband's family last week. While getting ready for the journey I had no idea what would be in store for me on one of the vacation days. We flew into Rochester, NY and then drove about an hour and a half southeast to Keuka lake. (I'll share my pictures with you soon) 
 Over the course of a few days we all started to see different groups of ducks. Sometimes there were groups of adults swimming together. Sometimes there were mama ducks swimming with ducklings and sometimes there would just be a lone duck floating by. Nothing to exciting or out of the ordinary.
 One day a mama swam by with five ducklings. Now to me these ducklings looked awfully small for this late in the season but what do I know? The next day we saw a mama swim by with four ducklings. Now I am not sure it this was the same duck or not who had swam by with five the day before.  This mama with four swam very close to all us humans. She didn't seem to care about our proximity to her babies. She led them right under the docks to a very small shore area. Too me this all seemed normal. Why shouldn't a mama duck show her babies how to get up on shore safely or look for food? I saw the adult duck do a weird flop (I decided she tripped) and then signal her babies to get back into the water. As they swam by me I counted the ducklings, three was the number I came up with. Wait, THREE!? What happened to the fourth one? I asked one of my sister in laws to confirm if there had in fact been four ducklings. When she said yes, I got worried. I searched the very small shoreline and suddenly saw the abandoned duckling. Without stopping to think about it, I swooped down onto little shore and picked up the duckling. By this time I had the attention of most of my husband's family. The mother duck had disappeared fast up the lake without a second thought for her lost duckling. I retraced what I had seen and decided that the mama duck had purposely tried to hurt this duckling I was now holding so it couldn't follow her and the others. In her little brain she had decided that it was too slow or too small and didn't want it anymore.

I know the natural world is a hard and cruel place. However I didn't think animal mother's just left a baby unless it was deformed or hurt. This little duckling had good little wings, a strong pair of webbed feet and a nicely formed duck bill. Other then being slightly smaller then it's siblings there was nothing wrong with it.

My father in law offered to take me and the duckling to a veterinary clinic. About five miles down the road I had seen an animal hospital and so off we went with my new little terrified friend. The people at the first veterinary clinic were not that helpful. We finally got the name and phone number of a place that does rehabilitation in Penn Yan. The town of Penn Yan was about 20 miles north of where we currently were. And so off we went grumbling about unhelpful humans.

After arriving in the Penn Yan and driving past the human hospital we started to think that we had missed the destination and were getting a bit worried. We finally asked a postal worker if they knew of the place we were looking for. Oddly the postal employee wasn't quite sure but thought it should just be up the road. Finally we saw a veterinary clinic and pulled into the parking lot. All the front desk people enjoyed seeing a little fluffy duckling and told us about how they had just released another duck back into the wild. This was the place we needed to be! They took my saved duckling and my information with the promise to call and let me know how it goes.

Now I have driven about 50 miles to save one duck and have a story to share over the years. I couldn't just let that little one starve to death.

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